Wednesday, February 12, 2014

School Board talks safety, school lunch price

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
Following a special called meeting to meet with representatives of Harshaw Trane on Monday, the Webster County School Board held their regular scheduled meeting.
Webster County Safety Director Mark Spainhoward addressed board members with an update to the school’s safety program. He also told the board that Sebree and Dixon Elementary Schools had recently completed safety assessments, and presented them with a list of safety recommendations for both schools.
Among the biggest concerns were the entrances to the schools. All of the district’s schools require visitors to be buzzed into the facility by the office staff, but once they are buzzed through the security door there is nothing forcing the visitor to meet with office staff.
“Right now once you get though the door you can go anywhere,” said Spainhoward. “At the high school it would mean putting up a second set of doors. What we want to accomplish is having a way for our visitors to come in and have to talk to the secretary. We want our schools to be welcoming, but this is an added sense of security.”
He told the board that there was Safe Schools money available for the project, but the project would require a BG-1 (permit) to be filed with the state.
Spainhoward said that he has already filed a request to have a safety assessment done on the high school and adjoining middle school next school year.
At the last board meeting food service director Shane Bosaw presented a request to increase the price of school meals. He told the board that the FDA is requiring schools to begin raising meal prices to match the $2.65 that it currently pays for free and reduced lunches. Currently Webster County students pay $1.90 for their lunches.
Board members had several questions about food services’ finances, which Bosaw answered Monday night.
According to Bosaw’s report, the district is currently losing an average of $6,622 per month, up from $5,426 last year. The average monthly income has also dropped from $113,281 to $99,018.
Board members were interested in what difference a price increase would make. A $0.10 increase would generate an estimated $8,082 per school year, while an increase of $0.35 would raise revenue by $28,287.
“We can take all of this into consideration and discuss it at a future meeting,” said board chairman Jeff Pettit. “I think we will probably come to our next meeting ready to discuss it and vote on it.”
In other business, board members heard from Kim Saalwaechter, Supervisor of Assessment & Accountability for Webster County Schools.
“Across the board I am very pleased with fall to winter MAPs results,” Saalwaechter reported. “Usually we see a big dip. We had some classes that stayed the same, but over all, our k-8 in content areas in MAPs saw improvement from fall to winter.”
Saalwaechter said that 5th period at the high school is set aside for ACT prep, but weather over the last month has taken a toll on that program. High school students are scheduled to take the ACT on March 4, 2014, but district officials are working to get that rescheduled.
“They are surveying the districts and looking at the possibility of moving that testing window back because of all the weather events we have had,” she said.
Despite the improvement in the MAPs area, assistant superintendent Alan Lossner is not satisfied.
“Superintendent Galloway, Kim and I had a long discussion,” Lossner said. “One of the things we talked about is that we as a district for several years have been successful at state assessment. This year we tanked. I think one of the reason we have seen a decline is that we have become too complacent. We are prepared to reevaluate our whole way of looking at curriculum and instruction so that we can become a much higher performing district. We are going to look at our whole way of teaching kids and how we hold people accountable.”
“I hope that this board has made it clear that education is our main priority,” said Pettit. “We have got to keep the focus on what you spoke about...our curriculum, our test scores. While we might not agree with what ever system we are placed in, it is our job to make sure that our children are successful in whatever that system is.”
“It is easy for us to make excuses,” said Saalwaechter.  “We can’t make excuses any more.”
Finally, Superintendent Pete Galloway told the board that if students do not miss any more days, the final day of school (for students) will be May 30.

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